Published on September 10th, 2011 | by Greg0
Weekend Retreat: New Board Games
Sure, school has started. And fall is beginning to make it’s presence known. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! It might not be the holidays yet, but there are still a few items released in this twilight-of-summer. We’ve got two interesting new board games- and who knows, you might even learn something from them! We saw both at the Toy Fair earlier this year, and both are good games for fairly large groups.
The Whirled Peas website is pretty annoying- we mention this since it autoplays music, and it is a bit difficult to figure out how to make it stop. Also, the site isn’t particularly convincing, with animated flowers, stretched puns, and the slightly disturbing royal pea mascot. Still, the basic premise is cute, with the mascot as a plastic spinner and a bunch of flying peas. The construction and materials are solid, and the theme grows on you. Also, we love party games, especially where most everyone can play at once. For this one, you form two teams, and compete on five different types of challenges- and though a couple are normal ‘mime’ or ‘sketch-a-phrase’, one of them includes putty and another has you trying to figure out what was drawn on your back. All in all, it’s good clean fun, and a nice contrast to Apples to Apples and other judging-based games. It keeps people engaged, though we found the ‘Clap Trap’ challenges to be a bit un-fun and a weird contrast to the other four. At $35, it’s a tough call- there are many great games out there that are more original or more suited for specific audiences. Diehard board gamers might not love it, but they might prefer it to yet another round Cranium. 13+, four or more players, seven peas in your pod to win the game.
On a similar mixed note comes Analyze Me Game from Blue Orange. This is the type of game that lives or dies on the strength of the questions, and the good news is that there has been some real thought put into them. But the answers are a bit of a different note, and you’ll see what we mean in a moment.
The basics of the game are the same. Inside the fairly small tin you get a bunch of cards, color-coded into four categories: work, play, social, and private. The game is aimed at adults- 18 and over- so the questions are at times a bit… well, adult. We tried it as intended, with a group of four (three to eight are suggested), and quickly found some weak points. For starters, each question has three possible choices, but often feel a bit constraining. Many times, it slowed the game down, or felt arbitrary, as people were forced to choose something that they didn’t really believe. You need to collect one of each type of card to win, and you do that by voting on how you think the other players will choose. Thus, the guessing can be a bit random when players aren’t acting quite in the spirit of the game, or when some players know each other really well, or simply when you’re unable to guess because of the forced answers. We still had fun with it, just using the cards in a more free-form two-player setting. As an armchair psychology game, the mechanic is only so-so, but the idea is sound and there is still some decent replayability. $16, available online and in stores.